Eric Naki
Political Editor
2 minute read
15 Jan 2022
6:45 am

Turkey opens its borders to SA visitors

Eric Naki

The Turkish Embassy in Pretoria said South Africans fully vaccinated with a WHO -approved vaccine, would't need to quarantine on arrival.

Travellers queue at a check-in counter at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27, 2021, after several countries banned flights from South Africa following the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant Omicron. (Phill Magakoe / AFP)

The Turkish government has eased travel conditions for South Africans, with an announcement that passengers may be accepted in Turkey if they submit a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test prior to travelling.

The Turkish Embassy in Pretoria said South Africans who were fully vaccinated with a World Health Organisation-approved vaccine, including the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, would not need to quarantine on arrival there. Those who were unvaccinated would. The negative PCR test results should be submitted 72 hours before flight.

Turkey is one of the countries that banned travellers from South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe last year in response to the outbreak of the omicron variant. The ban by Britain and a few other European countries was widely condemned by the South African government and neighbouring countries for being discriminatory.

The countries and other role players argued the variant had already hit many European countries before it was found in South Africa, but no ban was imposed on them. For unquarantined entry, a minimum of 14 days must have passed since the traveller received the second vaccine dose. Children under the age of 12 were exempt from
submitting a PCR test but 12 to 18 year olds would need to be tested on arrival.

“If the result is negative, they do not need to quarantine [but] if they are tested positive, they will have to quarantine,” the embassy said in a statement. “Unvaccinated passengers must still provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival in order to be accepted to travel to Turkey.”

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In term of the international restrictions notice issue on 29 November, further entry restrictions are currently in place for passengers who came from or had visited Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka in the previous 14 days.

On arrival, passengers were subjected to a medical evaluation for symptoms of coronavirus, including temperature
checks and random PCR testing. Passengers in transit through Turkey to a country that requires a PCR test must obtain a negative test before travelling.

From 6 September, Turkish citizens and residents must have proof of either two Covid vaccinations, recent Covid recovery or a negative PCR test (within 48 hours) for all domestic travel
by planes, and inter-provincial travel, including buses, trains or other public transportation vehicles.

On 25 November, the British health ministry announced the detection of omicron in South Africa and immediately imposed a travel ban. A general travel warning issued by the UK authorities included a caution about regular protest marches, demonstrations, and periodic incidents of public disorder across South Africa, “which can become violent”.

It also warned its citizens about the high level of crime “including murder and rape particularly in the townships, isolated areas and away from the normal tourist destinations”.

“Most visits are trouble-free, but a small number of British people encounter problems. You should take sensible precautions to protect your safety,” it said.